This week on Kotaku Splitscreen, Kirk Hamilton and I brought on Kotaku staff writer Ethan Gach to talk about the state of Destiny 2. Players felt let down by the reward for solving the Corridors of Time puzzle, but hey, MMOs are always more about the journey than the rewards, right? Still, it’d be nice if the rewards were good.
First, Kirk and I talk about what we’re playing, with Kirk still trucking through A Plague Tale: Innocence and me starting up Kentucky Route Zero for the first time. After a break (22:54), we bring on Ethan to talk about Destiny 2 and read some listener emails about hard-won gaming achievements. Then we close with off-topic discussion (1:05:16) about that one fight scene in The Witcher Netflix show, Lost In Space, Joker, and Uncut Gems.
Get the MP3 here, or read an excerpt below.
Kirk: You’ve been on the Destiny beat for Kotaku for the past while, and I’m just curious: how is the game going?
Ethan: It wouldn’t be Destiny without it always being on the verge of collapse, and everything about it being both terrible but also amazing. I know you guys talked a little last week about the recent big Corridors of Time puzzle. That was this great moment where everyone was super psyched and having a great time and logging on, not even necessarily into the game, but just people’s favourite streams or Discords, to see where things were at and what new stuff had been discovered. And then it landed with a thud with this reward that no one was really interested in, and now in the weeks since, people are like, “This is the end of the end.” It’s gotten super dire. And it’s just weird. People were on cloud nine towards the beginning of the month.
Everyone feels like there’s this fear of missing out. FOMO. That the game has gone from “do it at your own pace, things will be there when you want to get to them,” to now feeling like you’ve got to grind it out a couple hours every day. To me, honestly, Destiny always felt that way, because if you really wanted to maximise your progress, there are things on daily and weekly timers. So you can’t just grind everything out at the end of a season. But now there’s a lot more of the stuff that traditionally players have been used to just being ambiently in the game, to now being locked behind a 10-12 week season. So if you miss out on that season, you can’t go back and get this stuff.
Maddy: Right, more traditional MMO style.
Kirk: Seems that way.
Ethan: I suppose so. It also dovetails with some complaints people have had about the Eververse and the monetisation of the game, which again I’m sure longtime World of Warcraft people would laugh at, because they’re like, “Come on, I’ve been paying subscriptions and paying $US20 ($30) for mounts since forever.”
It’s weird. The second season of the new model, they Fortnite-ified everything. You have a battle pass, so no matter what you’re doing in the game, you’re slowly levelling that up. Outside of when they introduce a new raid or a new Pinnacle activity, your main rewards for the season are really coming from the battle pass. It’s pretty rote: get your bounties, level up, get the stuff. There’s not a whole lot of working up towards doing a Nightfall, or to doing a raid, or doing a higher difficulty version of the raid. In that regard, I think people are burnt out, feeling like they’re just doing the same “shoot 25 enemies with a Scout rifle” type thing every day.
Kirk: Which is an understandable feeling… After the Corridors of Time thing was solved, with a gun [as the reward], the big thing that was disappointing about it was also that the gun had been announced. It was a thing that people knew existed, and it wasn’t some huge cool surprise. It was just like, “Oh, ok.” It’s not “Gjallarhorn is back in the game!” Which I do understand being disappointing. So someone was like, “Oh, this is just classic Destiny. A super, super fun process to a really disappointing reward.” [laughs]
I think so often about the amazing things that I overcame [in Destiny], and nine times out of ten, unless there was a specific reward tied to them—like if the whole point of this thing is to get Black Spindle, that rifle we talked about last week—usually I don’t even remember what I got as a drop at the end of the challenge. It was purely the feeling of beating it. Because usually, the drop—especially in the early days of Destiny 1—was like, two shards of crafting materials and a shitty gun that you have twenty of. That’s Destiny in a nutshell.